What are sight words and how do they help my child learn to read?
Sight words are common words that your child should be able to identify by sight, making reading easier. These are also known as Dolch words. These words are usually divided into Kindergarten words and 1st grade words. Each school district typically adopts the ones they feel a Kindergartener should know before entering First Grade. While the lists may not be exactly the same, they usually have a lot of overlap from district to district. Just a few examples include: is, and, do, we, of, the, a, I, you, the, to, an, can and will.
When your child is in Kindergarten you may hear them refer to them as word wall words. Almost all Kindergarten classrooms have an area of the room devoted to the Word Wall. The word wall has sight words and student names posted under the appropriate letter of the alphabet. Your child’s Kindergarten teacher will use the Word Wall as a reference throughout the year when the children read and write. There are also lots of fun games and center activities that your child will do with these words. Your child’s teacher will likely send home a list of sight words that your child will be working on during the year. If you don’t receive this, ask for a list so you can help her work on them throughout the year.
Now that I know, what should I do?
Play I Spy. When reading with your child, play “I Spy” to find sight words on the page. It is okay to find words within words, but first start with the word by itself. For example, the sight word “a” and “an” are inside “can.” Finding words inside words is definitely higher level thinking. Start slow and work up to this point.
Starfall.com or Jan Brett’s site. Use http://www.starfall.com/n/matching/sight-words/play.htm?f to play a sight word matching game. (By the way, this website is great for all sorts of fun learning to read activities.) You can also find sight words at http://www.janbrett.com/games/jan_brett_dolch_word_list_main.htm
Flashcards. Yes, the trusty flashcards work in this instance but try to make their use fun. Make two sets and play Memory/Concentration or hide them around the house and have a scavenger hunt.
Dr. Seuss. Good ol’ Dr. Seuss used many of these words in his beginner reading books. Kids love Dr. Seuss’ rhymes and rhythm and won’t even realizing they’re learning sight words as they read these books or have them read to them.
Alphabet Magnets. Each morning when your child comes to breakfast have a few sight words spelled on the refrigerator. See if they can identify them. You can also have your child spell different sight words. Going to be in the car for a long day of shopping or vacation? Bring along a cookie sheet and have your child play with the magnets on it. You could even look for sight words on billboards, store signs or road signs.
Sidewalk chalk, bath crayons, paintbrushes and more. Give your child any opportunity to make sight words fun. Use sidewalk chalk or bath crayons. You can even use a paintbrush and water to “paint” the words on the sidewalk. Make a hopscotch court with sight words instead of numbers. Whatever you do, just make it fun!!